Soil testing for an organic lawn

Soil testing is a valuable tool in managing the mineral nutrition of the soil and is a quick and accurate method to determine the relative acidity of the soil (pH) and the level of several essential nutrients (phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, and zinc). The test results will aid me in making decisions regarding fertilization. It will help avoid over fertilization that can stimulate excessive plant growth and increase the likelihood of some diseases. It can also help reduce pollution of our water supplies. Excess nutrients applied, but not used by plants, may run off into surface waters during storms or leach into ground water. Thus by applying only what is needed it can also help reduce pollution of our water supplies.

Soil Analysis

A soil test is comprised of taking multiple samples throughout the lawn. It would be rare if two samples are found producing the same test results even if they were drawn a foot away from each other. So it is extremely important to get a good representation of the entire area being evaluated. This sample is sent for analysis takes approximately 2 weeks for the results to return. A test will be done for pH, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, aluminum, iron, manganese, zinc, organic matter, and nitrogen. From these test results, a program will be designed for you to provide the correct amount of nutrients to promote a healthy lawn and soil.

How often should a test be performed?

A soil sample could probably be taken for a few years in a row, but once the lawn is under control, a soil test might not be needed for three years.

pH levels

Soil pH affects the availability of nutrients in the soil as well as those applied as fertilizer and promotes beneficial microorganisms. When pH is at the proper level, nutrients available in the soil are “unlocked” ready to give the plant the necessary vitality to produce, multiply, and resist disease. If the pH is either too high or too low, these nutrients are locked out. The optimum range for turf pH is 6.2 – 6.8.